Huge traffic rises on northern A12

TRAFFIC levels on the northern stretch of the A12 have risen by nearly 15,000 a week in eight years, new figures have revealed.Villagers living alongside the road, which links Ipswich and Lowestoft, said they were facing growing problems with congestion and mental anguish from the volume of cars and HGVs rumbling past their homes.

By Sarah Chambers

TRAFFIC levels on the northern stretch of the A12 have risen by nearly 15,000 a week in eight years, new figures have revealed.

Villagers living alongside the road, which links Ipswich and Lowestoft, said they were facing growing problems with congestion and mental anguish from the volume of cars and HGVs rumbling past their homes.

They have renewed calls for a long-awaited bypass around four congested villages that straddle the A12, Farnham, Stratford St Andrew, Marlesford and Little Glemham.

Figures released by Suffolk County Council show that, between 1996 and 2004, the volume of traffic on the northern stretch of the A12 rose from an average of 14,452 a day to 16,589 a day - a rise of 15%.

The number of HGVs rose by 3% over that period, reaching an average of around 1,305 a day in 2004.

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The council said the figures, which represent the annual average daily flow of traffic in both directions, varied along the A12, with traffic levels ranging from 30,000 a day on the Woodbridge bypass to 9,300 a day on the Wangford bypass.

“These figures show an average growth of 2% per annum over the last few years, which is the same as the Suffolk average for all roads,” said a spokeswoman.

But people living in the congestion-hit villages said they were becoming increasingly divided from their neighbours over the road and the increasing traffic levels had taken a significant toll.

Gary Miller, chairman of Farnham with Stratford St Andrew Parish Council, said homes closest to the road suffered vibrations in their homes from the passing traffic.

“Can you imagine the damage it's doing to properties? You have got a situation, quite frankly, where everything has increased except the ability of the road to cope with that increase in traffic,” he said.

The conditions had created incidents of road rage and driver frustration, he said, and locals often found it difficult to get on to the A12.

“You have got more children. Their parents are scared to have them anywhere near the A12,” said Mr Miller.

“If you look at the size of the vehicles that are coming through those Farnham bends, they don't seem to be able to keep to their own side of the road.

“I would say the damage to the environment, to their properties, and to their nerves justifies any bypass being built.

“It's a severe problem. It's not a question any more of 'should we, shouldn't we?', it's a question of how much longer are the people going to live with it.

“People have sunk their life savings into these properties. That's all they've got.”

Peter Chaloner, chairman of Little Glemham Parish Council, said although lower speed limits had been introduced recently, it did not solve the problem of increased traffic.

“We have got the speed limits and the traffic calming, but I don't think you can mitigate the effect of high traffic volumes just by reducing the speed,” he said.

“For us as residents, it makes it hard to get on to the A12. Obviously, for through travellers it slows their journey considerably. I think it adds to frustration. I think it encourages people to do unwise overtaking manoeuvres.

“I have noticed that we get a lot of congestion now, particularly on Saturday mornings in the summer and Sunday evenings.”

Residents are due to find out later this year whether the county council will press ahead with a bid to build an A12 bypass.

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